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The 'welcome' Sale have planned for Diamond 14 months after he quit

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson is keen on having a catch-up beer on Saturday with his Sharks predecessor Steve Diamond – but there will be “no kind words” prior to kick-off at the AJ Bell when Worcester visit. It was 14 months ago – December 8, 2020 – when it was announced that Diamond was leaving his director of rugby role with the Manchester club after a decade in the job.

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His exit was a surprise but it was later explained that some family bereavements left Diamond in need of a break from the game and wanting to step away. That opened the door for Sale to recruit Saracens assistant Sanderson and the team he inherited went on to reach the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals last June.  

It was always inevitable, though, that Diamond would eventually get back in the game and after speculation linking him to struggling Bath came to nought, he popped up instead at another top-flight struggler. 

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His initial role at Worcester from the end of November was lead rugby consultant but eight weeks later he was handed control of the entire on-field rugby operation and Saturday’s trip back to his former Sale stomping ground will be his third match in charge of the Warriors.  

Despite being 13 months in charge, Sanderson reckons Sale is still more a club belonging to Diamond than him and the welcome will be warm – but only once the game is over. “This is still more Steve’s club than mine. It truly is,” said Sanderson in the run-up to the Premiership round 16 fixture. “The place echoes of him still as it should because he has been instrumental here for years. 

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“I have been back for 15 years to Sale from Saracens and every time I came back I was welcomed with open arms, my family got tickets which were easier to get at Sale than they were at Saracens at times for hospitality areas. That’s the kind of club this place is. Once you have been indoctrinated and accepted as part of the club you are always part of the club so he will be warmly welcomed back, more so after the 80 minutes than before. I am sure there will be no kind words pre-kick-off but I hope to have a beer with him afterwards.”

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The 42-year-old Sanderson went on to explain how he many similarities the 54-year-old Diamond, whom he considered working under when his predecessor was still the boss at Sale. “Clubs take on traits or have historical, lasting playing styles and traits that have stuck with them for years regardless of directors of rugby and who has been in charge. You can go through them. 

“Newcastle, when have they not been gritty and doggedly determined and annoyingly competitive? They have been that forever, regardless of who has been there. When have Quins never been like a fast-breaking, showmanship, Harlem Globetrotters style of a team regardless of who has been there? It has been part of their DNA if you well. 

“Dimes has been instrumental in my career as a coach, as a player. There is a lot of similarities that we share, values that are common. Hence why it was such an easy fit for me coming in here. I was talking to Dimes prior to this engagement about whether we could work together so it goes to say the place still echoes of him because in many ways I am not too different to him. I’m just a bit younger and a bit better looking!”      

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